Comfortable work clothes

March 14, 2010 | Filed Under Front_Page_News, Life coaching, Life in the office, Work and management |

“Dress sharply and they notice the dress.  Dress impeccably and they notice the woman – Coco Chanel”

This was quoted by Sigourney Weaver in the 80s classic film Working Girl, to Melanie Griffith.  Although we all love to look just right of not really good, this can be a burden in the current financial climate and is only compounded if we ever need to don personal protective equipment (PPE) for any of our work tasks, writes’s health and well-being consultant Samuel Furse.

Other clothing worries our clients have told us about are in looking right for the role and feeling good at the same time.  In the third quarter of 2009, 59.6% of female respondents approved of the attire worn on casual days in the professional environment. This is a 10.9% increase on three years ago, indicating a growing acceptance of relaxed wardrobes in the work place.

“I absolutely think that there’s a firm middle ground in office dressing today,” offers Jeannine McShane, a performance specialist with Employee Performance Strategies, a training consulting company based in Washington, USA. “It’s not like it used to be, where women wore suits and dresses five days a week to make a statement about their professional commitment. Of course, office attire is not about ignoring what you’re wearing, but dressing appropriately and keeping the emphasis on what truly counts; job performance,” she told us.

We know that our clients place productivity, client focus and project deliverables at the top of the list at work, but if you feel your clothes let you down, you’ll want an answer.  How do we solve this?  Well, here is’s simple 5 step-guide to getting kitted out for work functions, safety tasks, away days, training and anything else your boss can throw at you

Step 1 – Be comfortable.  If you look at a suit, dress, or combo and think you’ll never be comfortable in it, it’ll never be worth buying it.  People can see if you are not comfortable and this will only make things harder for you in the long run.  The worst-case scenario is that it lowers your productivity and damages your client focus – it’s just the sort of thing that can take your eye off the ball, and no one wants that.

Step 2 – Be practical. If you find an outfit that looks great, do a quick mental check that it will help you out at work.  After all, if it lets you down, it’ll never put you in a good light.  Also, take confidence in yourself to be clever – hidden pockets, adjustable sizing and removable layers are all great if you find yourself moving from one room to another, one situation to another or for making an outfit multi-seasonal.

Step 3 – Plan ahead. An excellent opportunity for clothes shopping if nothing else, but planning what you’ll wear is as important as planning the deadlines and those deliverables.  So, take the time to pick up an outfit or two on your day off, you never know when they might be useful.  Planning also means that you don’t have to splash out every time you buy new clothes.  It’s amazing how cheaper clothing from on-line retailers and auction sites can be just as good or better than High Street retailers with a bit of planning

Step 4 – Choice. Give yourself a choice!  No one wants to wear the same thing over and again, and clients, colleagues and senior staff you want to make a good impression on for that promotion will only be impressed if you show freshness and variation in what you wear.  Also, it means that when you get up in the morning you can put on what feels just right – whether it’s for a project meeting, interview, board meeting, field trip or business lunch, you’ll be right in there.

Step 5 — Be true to yourself.  Trust your own instincts – that’s good advice for real women and cinematic sirens alike.  Coco Channel would surely approve!

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